I know, you really do not want to read about this anymore. Whatever you believe, you have settled on it before now. Another post is not going to change your mind.
I agree. I promise not to try to persuade you that Dan Cathy was right or wrong.
But I have some other observations that I hope will resonate.
First, almost everyone agrees on the free speech issue. The mayor of Boston was just wrong, and he quickly realized it. Governments in this country do not get to keep otherwise legitimate business owners out of town solely because of their beliefs, their religion, or what they have said in an interview.
Second, almost everyone agrees on the love issue. Yes, there has been hatred spewed (on both sides, I might add), but the overwhelming sense I get is agreement that God calls us to love everybody. We can disagree on what love requires of us, but the accusations from either side that the other side is hateful are, by and large, unfounded.
Third, neither the free speech issue nor the love issue has anything to do with how most people have reacted. If you choose to boycott the franchise and I choose to eat there, both of us have that right. Cathy's speech does have consequences in the marketplace, and while the constitution restricts how the government reacts to it through the First and Fourteenth Amendments, you and I have no such restrictions. Loving Dan Cathy requires me neither to agree with him about gay marriage nor to buy his sandwiches; loving homosexuals does not require that I agree with the social movement in favor of legalized gay marriage or that I must join the boycott.
Fourth, seeing the boycott shoe on the other foot has been ironic. In 1997, the Southern Baptist Convention announced what would be an eight-year boycott of all things Disney because of perceived pro-gay policies of the Walt Disney Company. Then, a mere 15 years ago, it was the religious conservatives trumpeting a boycott as an appropriate free market expression and media liberals condemning the idea as high-handed and foolish. Today, the arguments are the same, but the proponents have switched sides.
Fifth, the world has changed. Comments like those made by Cathy would not have caused a ripple ten years ago.
Sixth, social media and the issue of homosexuality combine to bring out the worst in a lot of us. You know this yourself from the Facebook postings you have read over the last week, culminating yesterday - Chick Fil-A Appreciation Day - with postings from Christians criticizing other Christians for buying chicken sandwiches for lunch instead of sending those three or four bucks overseas to feed a starving child. (I assume that the people who posted that sentiment fasted as they sent their own money overseas, but I digress.) I have read posts from both sides of the issue that have been rude and demeaning.
Seventh, many people on both sides of this issue honestly do not understand how people can disagree with them. I read one blog that compared, with tongue only slightly in cheek, the supporters of traditional marriage with people who believe those commercial cows really don't know how to spell. The smugness of the "learn to think" posts are matched by the moral superiority of the "God-said-it-I-believe-it" posts.
Finally, I am struck by the number of Christians on both sides of this issue. I am struck by the number of conservatives on both sides of this issue. I am struck by the number of liberals on both sides of this issue. Gay marriage is a controversy that crosses normal boundaries. Christians can believe that homosexual activity is wrong but that the government should stay out of it. Other Christians can believe we have no place calling anyone's choice to love someone else sin and yet not take a stand on what they believe is a social and political, but not religious, issue. A social conservative and a social liberal can both believe that marriage is by definition between a man and a woman and that government intrusion to expand that definition is simply illogical. Political liberals and Tea Partiers can all believe that domestic partnerships or other legislative creations are sufficient and that we do not need to use religious terms like "marriage" to define any social relationship.
There is a lot for all of us to learn. Regardless of what happens with gay marriage, and irrespective of how many chicken sandwiches you do or do not eat this month, this tempest will not stay in a teapot. How we communicate with each other, what we really mean by high-minded concepts like love and tolerance and freedom, and the role that religious belief and morality really play in the public sphere are all at issue. I hope that my conservative friends can allow people with whose behavior and beliefs they disagree to coexist with them. I hope that my liberal friends can allow people with whose behavior and beliefs they disagree to coexist with them. I hope that all of us can widen our views enough to find a way to hear - and not try to dictate - the voice of God.